South Korea said Thursday it is too early to say whether it will approve a civic group’s plan to visit North Korea for a joint inter-Korean summit anniversary event slated for this month.
The Ministry of Unification on Wednesday decided to allow a civic group to contact North Koreans to prepare for a joint event to mark the first inter-Korean summit held on June 15, 2000.
The ministry cast a prudent stance over whether it will approve the group’s visit, saying that it will take into account the event’s purpose and other details first.
“It would be better not to prejudge it,” said a ministry official. “The government will review it after the group applies for their plans to visit North Korea.”
The government said last month that it will flexibly resume civilian inter-Korean exchanges to the extent that the move would not compromise the international sanctions regime.
The announcement has raised expectations that long-suspended inter-Korean exchanges may be revived under the administration of liberal President Moon Jae-in who is favorable to engagement with North Korea.
Non-government groups from the two Koreas agreed during a meeting in China in February to hold the summit event in Pyongyang or Kaesong in North Korea. The South’s side contacted North Koreans without government approval at that time.
If the joint event is approved, it would mark the first time such a celebration has been jointly held in nine years.
But the government remains cautious, as the North continued with provocations in defiance of international sanctions.
“Applications for trips to North Korea will be reviewed after Seoul takes into account their purpose, inter-Korean ties and the international environment,” Park Soo-hyun, presidential spokesman, told reporters. (Yonhap)